Simon Pegg recently caught a ton of shit for having the audacity to wonder aloud whether grown-ass men and women deeply devoting their lives to nerdy pursuits is maybe not the best thing. It's not really that controversial of a thing to say, but when the story was picked up by the likes of such formally reputable news outlets as CNN, USA Today, The Guardian, and The Washington Post, all hell broke loose.
What's most frustrating about the story is the people who didn't already know this about modern pop culture. It should have been intuitive. We should all have been born into the pop culture landscape knowing all of this will now and forever be kid stuff. Kid stuff that helps us feel happy and cope with a harsh world, but kid stuff nonetheless. It got me thinking: What else don't people already intuitively understand about pop culture? The short answer is "a lot of things," but if you were interested in brevity, you definitely wouldn't be reading Cracked right now.
So with that in mind, let's begin this educational seminar by laying a little groundwork, and understanding that ...
#4. A Lot Of Modern Pop Culture Is Made For Kids, But You Can Like It, Too
Pegg had a point, and a great one. A lot of modern pop culture is for kids, yet go to a theater on opening day and you'll drown in a sea of adults like me (and everyone else who has ever written anything for this site). We'll all barely be able to contain our glee as we prepare to watch comic book characters deliver the most expensive fake punches in world history. But none of that stuff is really for us. These are children's toys we never gave away. Look no further than Frozen, a Disney movie for kids. Now go to YouTube and watch the thousands of "Let it Go" parodies that adults spent a lot of their adult time producing.
Might as well be lying on the floor next to naked Barbies.
We live in a wonderful age, an age in which no one tells us to put away our childish things. This makes us think these things never stopped being for us. Take the latest Ninja Turtles movie, for example. It was not a movie for the 30-to-35-year-olds who grew up with the '80s cartoon. That's why if you were one of those many thousands of people across the Internet who posted things like, "They ruined my childhood!" after seeing so much as a trailer, well, I'm so, so sorry to break it to you, but that movie has absolutely nothing to do with your childhood. Adult you watched a kids movie and thought it was stupid. A kid will watch it and think it's the most spectacular thing they've ever seen.
Like a head of cabbage wearing old rags.
It's like trying to fit your adult-size-11 foot into a kid-size-5 shoe. You might squeeze in a toe or two, but that shit isn't moving an inch further. A lot of the things you love can be best described by that Mathew McConaughey line from Dazed And Confused: "I get older, they stay the same age." Just, it's more about superheroes and stuff and less about ephebophilia. You can still love it and bask in it, but it's futile to get mad when its sensibilities are geared toward a younger generation, one with a whole different set of cultural influences informing their likes and dislikes. I'll get back to this idea later. For now, let's take another baby step towards understanding that some of your favorite pop cultural franchises aren't made for you anymore by admitting that ...
#3. Your Nostalgia Overshadows The True Quality Of The Things You Love
Murakami Wolf Swenson Productions
Let's go back to Ninja Turtles. If you were a fan of the '80s cartoon as a kid, let me ask you: Have you seen it lately? It hasn't aged well. Whatever fond memory of the show you have in your head, don't ruin it by watching this randomly chosen episode:
If you do watch it, you'll notice that it's mostly terrible and run the risk of accidentally stomping all over the rose-colored glasses you wear to make everything from your youth look so much better than it was.
Nostalgia is singlehandedly responsible for most of the big-budget movies and shows we watch today, but it's also the cause of a lot of stupid Internet rage from people who have no firm understanding of how truly awful a lot of things used to be. They only remember the properties they once loved as being paragons of joy because kids don't know shit about quality entertainment, and very few people rewatch the things they loved as kids. I don't care how discerning you think your childhood tastes were; you still used to eat a ton of boogers. Clearly, everything that falls under the banner of "taste" was entirely out of your teeny, tiny grasp.
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But that index finger game is strong.
None of this means people should stop liking whatever they like, or that they can't reap every morsel of joy they can from it until they die watching it in a retirement community at age 97. It just means people should be a little more realistic about the past. Be honest with yourself. Be open to the idea that maybe something you liked actually kind of sucks. Not everything ages like Star Wars or Batman: The Animated Series. Test it out yourself. Seek out a cartoon you once loved as a kid -- or a sitcom, or a movie, or a comic book -- and experience it for the first time in decades. Divorce yourself from all nostalgic attachment if you can. Be as clean a slate as possible. Then ask yourself if it's an objectively good thing. If you genuinely believe it's still a good thing, then go apeshit defending it at a nerd debate near you. If it's not, just admit it.
This is all especially true in a time when reboots, remakes, and reimaginings are so prevalent. In this pop culture day and age, we should all try to remember that ...